With his first ever Megazine review, here is Orlok with his take on Meg 345…
That’s a beautiful piece from Phil Winslade though perhaps a little dark for my tastes. Still, not everything can be sweetness and light and given the incident that occurs inside maybe black with a noose motif would have been a better colour.
This is really gorgeous, though, with equal attention to both lighting and the quality detail in the city behind. Dredd has slightly smaller pads than we are used to so perhaps this is a move in the direction of the movie Dredd. And that Lawgiver….literally smokin’.
One quibble, Dredd has some killer abs on him for a septuagenarian.
Dredd and (insert Psi Judge here) investigate a beheading which has links to an old case. Spotting some aliens Dredd and (insert Psi Judge here) give chase because as every Daily Mail reader knows; if you can’t find a suspect immediately then an immigrant scapegoat will do in a trice. Meanwhile, at the docks, more immigrant hybrids are swarming.
Being an old RPGamer I spotted the play on words here with Call Of Cthulu and Lovecraft’s Shadow over Innsmouth (James Block) which I recall also featured half human aquatic hybrids akin to the population of Scunthorpe. Nice rip o-, er, homage there.
The story itself pootles along decently enough with a few curiosities throughout. Zheng recording her dream log while sat idle on her bike (why isn’t this done at wake up or using the recording equipment shown in The Switch?) as well her not wearing a helmet (they can scan a perp through walls and across time but are thwarted by a crash hat?) leap to mind. The new shooter, which focusses psi power, is intriguing and I wonder if we will see it again after this story.
I was also alarmed at the perpetrators still being on scene after the murder and that seemed to be just story convenience.
It does smack somewhat of the mundane dropping yet another exotic female Psi into the mix, this time Oriental and feisty. Let’s see we’ve had Anderson (blonde, quirky, damaged), Corey (black hair, mopey, dead), Karyn (flame haired, possessed, incarcerated), Hamida (Asian, Muslim, suicidal), Janus (bald, annoying, hopefully dead in a ditch), Nova (white, helmeted, largely dull), Lamia (pale, ethereal, creepy) and now Zheng.
Just once I’d like to see someone have the balls to write in a rotund ginger haired Irish American with a flatulence problem as a side effect to his mental prowess or a pygmy immigrant who can only get psi flashes when possessed by the spirit of Wee Jimmy Krankie. Why follow the path blazed by other writers? Just have the stones to do your own thing.
There is some good stuff here, though. The obvious concept of a head being required to access memories had passed me by although I am fairly certain that the great Cassandra Anderson was able to read at least something from a severed left hand in The Graveyard Shift. But yeah, good point.
It seems we have a flash to Zheng’s dream too so the fishfaces and her psi flashes may interlink as this story develops. It was also good to see some use of the Dredd continuity with the reference to the James Block case.
Did the deceased industrialist find the erstwhile alien vessel in the murky depths and usurp/steal its secrets?
The art is lovely. Page 1, 4th panel with the city behind Zheng is stunning and there is a cracking reveal of the headless corpse. I also noticed that the statue in the corner is missing a noggin too.
The best thing was the flooding light into the apartment. That was just a thing of genius and I could stare at that stuff for ages.
Page 5 also gives us a remarkably unpopulated complex in this once bustling city; the legacies of Chaos Day still being evident in the emptiness.
Also, loved the dead eyed stare of the alien hybrid after he/it has been poleaxed.
On the trail of the Whisper, Galen and Claude investigate the Compound while the reason for the Hondo withdrawal from Mega City 2 is revealed.
I like Demarco as a character. She is a very rounded human being with all the failings thereof and it will be interesting to see what Michael Carroll, a man balls deep in Dredd lore, can do with her. Keep that Simping Detective cuntbubble out of it, though.
Carroll’s Mega City Two continuity puzzle is coming together nicely with the revelation that the Hondos managed to secure 11 sectors from the TAD ravaged ruins and high tailed it out when disappearances and geologic instability kicked in.
Claude, he of the Snapshot, is a mildly interesting individual and perhaps he will serve as a right hand mutant of sorts now that Travis Perkins has vacated the building.
The historian, Soichiro, is possibly a remnant of the Hondo contingent back in 2117, so again that’s a nice touch.
Demarco fires a warning shot of sorts to the douchebags in the Compound who seem to be the kind of people who embrace any sort of diversity so long as it is human and bigoted. Her crack about not forgetting says it all, really.
Steve Yeowell’s art is a little more detailed here which is good but again the samefaces abound and I could only tell Demarco from the crowd by her haircut and freckles. The inside/outside scenes were particularly confusing as there was no real light/dark to differentiate them substantially. Likewise for the flashbacks to the disappearances and here the strip would have benefitted from colour. Speaking of colour there’s an awful lot of Anglo Saxon flesh on display here with the exception being Soichiro. I know this is possibly indicative of the bigoted nature of the Compound but it is hard to tell since Yeowell’s races tend to be hard to tell apart.
I have to be honest and say I don’t actually like the way he draws Demarco and I have no idea what is meant to be represented in the last panel. It’s very badly presented.
Michael gets better from his case of “shot in the head” and uses his power to put the world to rights. Sadly his Connect Four skills remain shocking.
Though not Dredd related and nestling within the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine (which fucking annoys me) this has been exceptional and I could easily run dry of superlatives when describing this.
Each page is a masterpiece and D’israeli just gets better and better. I remember buying The Great Game some years back and enjoying the colour work immensely but this is a step above that and then some. It also features a Scarlett Johansson angel (“Damned straight!”). Probably one that backs Soda Stream instead of Oxfam, but still…
And it goes from the overt (page 1’s beauty) to the subtle (the blood stain/shadow replicated on Josh) with almost imperceptible effort. The highlight has to be page 7 with the kick off in the street. There’s heads being punched off, a burning Dali giraffe, Haka projecting a taniwha out of his head, Brian obeying the call of nature and munching a Navy Seal and a man about to be raped by a lycanthrope.
My one quibble is that last panel. If Tara and Josh are red, then Michael, being yellow has a diagonal four in place but is too dumb to see it. Or it is an art fuck up.
The story itself is also quite brilliant and serves as the perfect wrap up as Michael unleashes his power at last. We get to know more about Josh’s power and how it fades him accordingly, taking him further away from Michael. We see more of the POTUS in the thrall of imps and we finally learn what Tara’s power was. This was quite heart-breaking and beautifully done.
Though there is a high attrition rate of Michael’s friends, I wasn’t that arsed when Brian died. Sure, he was a good character but bears have fucked me off enough times in both Red Dead Redemption and Skyrim to the point where I have had to reload a billion times. Kill ‘em all, I say.
My two requests here are simple- First, no sequel. Keep it as this memorable and superb thing.
And second, release this as hardback with sketches from the D man. I’d be proud to have that on my shelf.
Investigating a case of child slavery, Dredd and Anderson get stuck in. Unable to bear it any more, Cass is at the end of her rope. I mean this both figuratively and literally.
A great artist can make a difference to a strip and Dowling is a great artist.
His subtle use of shadow is revelatory here and his Dredd looks like Dredd should be- old and scarred. Anderson too is looking her age under Dowling’s rendering. It was established a while back that Psis cannot use any anti-aging treatments as they interfere with their powers. So here we have a 55-56 year old woman in great physical shape but still showing the ravages of a life in the service of the Law. Apart from that one year or two off travelling where she probably got at least finger banged by Orlok (no relation).
The standouts here are the top panel on page 3, the panel of Cass using her psi powers, the close up of her eyes on page 7 and the Lawmasters panel on page 4. I still have a great fondness for the old school bikes and when you see them in action like this and bristling with killware it’s a joy to behold.
The final panel is both stunning and gorgeous as we get multiple things to draw the eye. The annoyed Dredd, the city behind and a tear cheeked Anderson pulling a Hutchence.
As for the story there is clearly something affecting Anderson here as she has tried to cancel her own ticket twice in this story already (she tried to eat a hi-ex and also take a header off Cypress Hill) and been interrupted both times. Dredd’s character is right on the money too with his attitude towards the ballbag with the leg injuries. His option of losing the legs to save on medication and commenting that the perp gave up all rights when he became a perp is the kind of old school stuff sadly lacking in the recent Titan epic. This is Dredd weighing up the price of breaking the Law in pure and simple terms. Honest cits get a break, perps don’t.
This of course fully translates to those juves who resist arrest in this story and pay the ultimate price. As Dredd says, there should be no remorse, especially given the fate of those children too weak to work; a fate which thankfully appears off panel giving us the imagination to paint it as foul as we like.
And so we come to that final panel and the apparent suicide of Anderson.
As a character she has been largely directionless for years which has been a terrible shame. Mopey, tepid stories have time and again failed to add value to the character even when the initial concept had promise. This is largely down to Alan Grant’s failing and though he is a brilliant and visionary writer his work on Anderson has been circling the drain. If this is him calling time on the character then you have to take your hat off to him. It is brave and bold to kill her off using this method and quitting while there was still some fire left in her.
Like Johnny Alpha, Anderson is a character that only really found footing under Alan Grant and since he took over in 1988 the character has journeyed out from beneath Dredd’s shadow in ways both good and bad.
That said, this story has been tremendously strong and by far Grant’s best work on the character for a long, long time. It is a shame that this quality wasn’t being knocked out by him a few years ago when the character really needed it. The moping here is minimal and in proportion to the trauma the city has undergone and though Anderson is putting a brave face on it she is clearly a washed out personality and even assurances from Dredd aren’t helping. This isn’t the Anderson who is boo hoo about the death of a Christian martyr, the overbearing nature of the system she has sworn to serve or the abuse of the innocent. This is a fully fledged human being who has seen suffering on a colossal scale and has been ravaged by that experience. Remember that Anderson too may share some guilt over the Day of Chaos and her complicity in the events that precipitated it. She was after all on the team that wiped out East Meg 1 and she knew that was their mission right from the start. She also got Dredd the codes he needed to launch the very TADS that did the deed, even knowing that half a billion people would perish in nuclear fire. That must weigh heavily on her too.
The rationalist in me however sees that with her appearing in the upcoming Death epic (ok, that may be down to the delay of that story) and the popularity of the character then this might not be the end.
I just hope that she doesn’t go to a place of light and peace where she is reunited with Corey, Amizov and Orlok (again, no relation) who teach her the meaning of love and give her the strength to go on. Fuck that shit, because it will sour this tale.
I’m not saying I want to see her die, I just don’t want a cop out end for her.
I didn’t read the Robocop stuff out of sheer bloody-mindedness. I buy the Megazine for stories not for film reviews or retrospectives. If it isn’t a 2000AD related film (and don’t give me that “influenced by” bollocks) then it shouldn’t be here.
The Royals 3 pager was also not read. Not because I don’t like the story-far from it, it is fucking excellent. No, it is because it doesn’t need a three page advert. Just one will suffice with a picture of the cover and the words “GO AND BUY THIS COMIC RIGHT NOW. WHAT? LOOK, I DON’T FUCKING CARE. UNLESS YOU ARE PREVENTING A NUCLEAR MELTDOWN OR REPAIRING A SEVERED ARTERY, DROP EVERYTHING AND GO AND BUY IT.”
The Jose Ortiz obit was decent enough though.
Tales from the Dog House was a floppy I neither needed nor cared for. Read these before and they weren’t very good then, either.
Ordinary was a work of magnificence and just about saw off the incredible challenge from the Anderson story.